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Sneak Attack + Touch Spells... Sneak Harm ?

Gez

Villager
Well, what happens if you're a Rogue Cleric, that you flank your target, and you cast Harm on it ? Given that usually you add sneak attack damage on attack spells that requires attack rolls (wow, three times the word "attack" in a single phrase! I'm feeling offensive), even when your spell don't deal direct damage (sneak attacks on energy drain add hit point damage, for example), we can ask this question.

I see only two reasonnable ways of handling this:
  • No sneak attack on Harm.
  • The sneak damage are calculated before the hit points are reduced to 1d4.

Any Caliban to answer this ?
 

SpikeyFreak

Villager
Well, I believe that the spell has to actually do damage, and technically harm doesn't do damage, it just reduces your HP.

So I would rule no sneak attacks with harm.

--Simple Spikey
 

Artoomis

Villager
I agree with the Spikey one:

No sneak attacks with harm - just as there is no critical possible with harm.
 

graydoom

Villager
Cannot be done. The way I see it is that Harm itself does no damage, just reduces your HP to a random amount.

Now, if you delivered the Harm with an unarmed attack, that'd be different....
 

dcollins

Villager
All this talk about "harm doesn't do damage, it just reduces hit points" is completely unsupportable and unnecessary.

It's well established that in a touch attack + touch spell situation, the attack damage is applied first, and then the spell goes off. From the Official D&D FAQ, p. 31:

Can a monk or other character use an unarmed strike to
deliver a spell with touch range? If so, how do you resolve
the attack?


Yes, you can use an unarmed strike to deliver a touch spell. Since casting a spell is a standard action, you usually have to wait until your next turn to make the unarmed attack. Resolve the unarmed attack exactly the same way you resolve any other unarmed strike. The attacker has to beat the defender’s Armor Class with all adjustments, including armor and shield, added in. (The attacker is trying to land a damaging blow, not just touch the opponent.) If the attacker doesn’t have the Improved Unarmed Strike feat, the attack draws an attack of opportunity. (Striking for damage exposes the attacker to more risk than merely touching the opponent to deliver a spell.) If the attack is a hit, the attacker deals unarmed damage and discharges the spell. If the attack is a miss, the attacker is still holding the charge.
 

Gez

Villager
What you've quoted is for a slightly different situation, when the caster wants to do unarmed damage plus affect someone with his spell. By default harm don't requires you to wait for the next round nor to beat the opponent's full AC, as it merely requires a melee touch attack which is part of its casting.

The thing is, if you're a spellcaster with sneak attack, you make sneak damage on touch attack spells even if you don't use the "I also want to pumel him" option.
 

Ywain

Villager
I think that there are three related questions at play here:

1) Can you deal sneak attack damage with a touch attack? The answer is "yes", but only if the corresponding spell deals damage, and you meet the conditions for sneak attack. As a rule of thumb, if you can score a critical hit with the spell then you can do sneak attack damage. Note that spells such as harm simply reduce hit points to a set amount and cannot score critical hits.

2) Can you deal sneak attack damage with an unarmed strike at the same time that you deliver a touch attack. Yes, see DCollins' quotation.

3) What is the order of operations for dealing unarmed strike damage and touch spell effects? If the unarmed strike damage is counted first, then Harm would render the damage redundant (in most circumstances) as the opponent would still only be reduced to 1d4 HP. If the spell takes effect first, then the opponent would be reduced to 1d4 HP then the unarmed attack damage would be subtracted. The sage seems to impy that they happen at the same time, but this is impossible in the case of Harm.

Discuss.

:D

BTW the circumstance where the unarmed strike damage wouldn't be redundant, even if it is delivered before the Harm effect, is if you are doing subdual damage. 10 points of subdual damage then the opponent is reduced to 4 HP = unconscious opponent. Not as good as dead, but pretty close.
 

rankarrog

Villager
What about: You do the unarmed/Sneak/Whatever damage and THEN apply the Harm Spell, which brings the victims HP to 1d4 :)
 

Darkness

Hand and Eye of Piratecat [Moderator]
I'm just glad that clerics don't have access to, say, haste and magic missile... :p
 
Last edited:

graydoom

Villager
Darkness said:
I'm just glad that clerics don't have access to, say, haste and magic missile... :p
Heh. Potions of Haste do the job just as well. And I do think that almost everyone has rule0ed Harm in one way or another by now.
 

SpikeyFreak

Villager
Darkness said:
I'm just glad that clerics don't have access to, say, haste and magic missile... :p
I think you need to take a closer look at a certain temporal domain in FRCS.

--Timely Spikey
 

Darkness

Hand and Eye of Piratecat [Moderator]
SpikeyFreak said:


I think you need to take a closer look at a certain temporal domain in FRCS.

--Timely Spikey
...which is only available to clerics of Grumbar and Labelas Enoreth, and still necessitates a good attack spell (preferably one that doesn't need an attack roll or grant a save). But yeah, almost anything can be done in 3e; you just need the right combination of classes, feats, magic items, etc. What I meant was that they don't usually have access to it; I know that it's possible if you try hard enough. Case in point, a cleric needs only a 5th-level wizard buddy to cast haste on him, or else he could buy a potion of haste. And if he's got at least one Rogue level (e.g., for getting sneak attack damage, like is the topic of this thread anyway), he could activate a wand of magic missiles with the Use Magic Device skill... :p
 

Gez

Villager
ragnarok said:
What about: You do the unarmed/Sneak/Whatever damage and THEN apply the Harm Spell, which brings the victims HP to 1d4 :)
That was point 2 of my initial post.

I think that I'll use the rule of thumb given by Ywain: sneak attacks only if crits are possible. Although I believe there's no crits possible on energy drain, yet sneak attacks are allowed on an energy drain spell with attack roll. Oh well.
 

Ywain

Villager
Yeah it was a rule of thumb. So energy drain and ability damage (not just reduction) are also eligible for sneak attack, if I recall correctly. But the usual case is a damage dealing spell.

You still have to sort out for yourself which comes first the spell or the unarmed strike damage, but that's easily house-ruled. Because they are technically simultaneous, but cannot be so in actuality, in my campaign there is a 50% chance of either coming first.

It would probably be more balanced to just say that unarmed strike damage always comes first, but I like a dramatic, heroic sort of game.
 

Dr_Rictus

Villager
Personally, I do think it's open to some question whether harm does "damage" as such.

It's worth considering, because if it does, at the level where you're casting harm in the first place, it will often do massive damage (that is, 50 hp or more). Which opens the question of whether harm should be routinely eliciting a saving throw to avoid instant death in addition to its other (admittedly near-fatal) effects.
 

Carpe DM

Villager
Yes, you could do it.

But, you do damage and then discharge the spell.

Which means you do damage first, then discharge the harm. The sneak attack does no good.

best,

Carpe
 

SpikeyFreak

Villager
Dr_Rictus said:
Personally, I do think it's open to some question whether harm does "damage" as such.
The spell doesn't do damage by the D&D3E definition of doing damage.

I mean of course it does damage, afterwards you have less HP. But for things that depend on a spell doing damage, harm doesn't meet the req's.

--Unintuitive Spikey
 

Ywain

Villager
Carpe DM said:
Yes, you could do it.

But, you do damage and then discharge the spell.

Which means you do damage first, then discharge the harm. The sneak attack does no good.

best,

Carpe
Except, as I noted earlier, if you are attacking for subdual damage then the sneak attack will be +Xd6 subdual damage. Any time that your accumulated subdual damage is greater than your current HP you fall unconscious.

So you rack up 15 points of subdual damage on your opponent then drop them down to 4 HP, and they will slump to the ground. You can perform a coup de grace at your leisure.
 

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